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I disagree with Tatchell's age of consent proposal

by Marthijn Uittenbogaard


On 10 October 2016 famous UK gay activist Peter Tatchell said [1]: "I think it is best that young people wait. I do not think early sex is a good idea. But If young people do have consensual sex and they are below the age of sixteen I don't think they should be treated as criminals." Why young people should wait with sex I don't know. Maybe Tatchell just don't want to be too extreme in his views he openly dares to share. [1]

Later, on his website he published: "It is true that fairly small numbers of teens are prosecuted or cautioned for consensual under-16 sex. But even only a couple of hundred is a couple of hundred too many. It can be devastating for those arrested. [...] Perhaps we should keep the age of consent at 16 but decriminalise sex involving a person under 16, providing there is informed consent, no one is harmed and there is no more than two years difference in the partner's ages - similar to the laws in Germany, Switzerland and Israel. In other words, consenting sex between a 14 and a 15 year old would be lawful but not sex between a 14 and 40 year old," said Mr Tatchell." [2]

So a 14 year old can have sex with a 15 year old but not with someone who is 40 years of age. Why I wonder. Is a 40 year old abusing his or her powers and a 15 year old not? Or is it that we want monogamous relationships for life, so society wants to control the choices of our kids: we decide for you. Am I happy when Tatchell's proposal will become law? I'm afraid not. He writes that "only a couple of hundred people convicted [every year I guess/MU] is too many." Yes, he is right about that, but I think that when his law will be in place more youngsters will be brought to 'justice'. Because in our sexophobic society a huge age gap will never become law. So only people close in age - a two year age gap maximum - are spared a possible court case. The rest is not. Nowadays the justice system can decide not to persecute, but when you have the 2 year age gap law, I'm afraid everyone outside that age gap will be brought to court. The current situation may be better than Tatchell's proposal. Only lowering the age of consent totally, to 14 as a start, is progress. Because why convict a 14 year old having sex with a 13 year old?

The problem with illegal sex which is tolerated somehow, is that one police officer thinks the relation is okay while another thinks it's punishable. And the decision to bring a case to court is dependent on many factors like for instance homophobia. When the police officer thinks that a boy and girl make a perfect couple but with two boys of exactly the same age he or she thinks negatively about them or about one of them, then there is the problem of discrimination.

So the current laws should be replaced or abolished, but not with a law that maybe is even worse in practice than the current laws are. I propose an age of consent of 12. Society can handle this. In the end - which society isn't ready for yet - we can abolish the age of consent totally and replace it with just one thing: consent.

notes
[1] Peter Tatchell: Time To Lower Age Of Consent - LBC - 10 October 2016 - http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/lucy-beresford/peter-tatchell-time-to-lower-age-of-consent/?1234&utm_source=petertatchell.net&utm_medium=referral
[2] Age of consent: Too high? Too low? Just right - Uk law criminalises more than half of all ypung [young] people - Peter Tatchell - 8 November 2016 - http://petertatchell.net/lgbt_rights/age_of_consent/Age%20of%20consent%20Too%20High%20Too%20Low.htm


16 January 2017